Religion and Theology

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Run by Faculty of Arts
Awards available PhD, MPhil
Programme length MPhil: one year full-time;
two years part-time
PhD: four years full-time (minimum period of study three years);
eight years part-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Start date January 2022 September 2022 January 2023 The PhD and MPhil can be studied via distance learning.

Programme overview

MPhil: a standalone, one-year (full-time) research degree. Students will undertake their own research project, concluding in the submission of a 25,000 word dissertation. Students may have the option to audit units from our taught master's programmes if they are relevant to their research.

PhD: a research project undertaken across four years (full-time, minimum period of study three years), culminating in an 80,000 word thesis. As well as having the option to audit taught units, there may be the potential for PhD students to teach units themselves from their second year of study onwards.

The department has a strong and innovative research culture, and includes leading researchers in the thought and practice of Buddhism, Christianity and Judaism. We use a wide range of linguistic, historical, philosophical and theological methods, and provide many opportunities for postgraduates to build a strong portfolio of skills and experiences in preparation for an academic career and professional life beyond university.

Fees for 2022/23

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2022/23 are as follows:

UK: full-time
UK: part-time
Overseas: full-time

Following the recent changes to fee assessment regulation, Channel Islands and Isle of Man students will no longer be charged a separate tuition fee. From the 2021/22 academic year they will be charged the same fees as Home students.

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

Alumni discount

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni discount.

Funding for 2022/23

The University of Bristol is part of the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP), which will be offering studentships for September 2022. For information on other funding opportunities, please see the Faculty of Arts funding pages.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Entry requirements

MPhil: An upper second-class degree (or international equivalent). Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of your readiness to pursue a research degree.

PhD: A master's qualification, or be working towards a master's qualification, or international equivalent. Applicants without a master's qualification may be considered on an exceptional basis, provided they hold a first-class undergraduate degree (or international equivalent). Applicants with a non-traditional background may be considered provided they can demonstrate substantial equivalent and relevant experience that has prepared them to undertake their proposed course of study.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile C
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement

Research groups

We often collaborate with the interdepartmental Centre for Medieval Studies. Students also participate in a fortnightly research seminar that brings all staff and students together. 


The majority of graduates from this programme develop careers as academics in secondary and higher education, while maintaining the capacity to undertake new and innovative research in the field of religion and theology.

Staff profiles

Dr Lindsey Askin, (Lecturer in Jewish Studies), apocrypha and pseudepigrapha; Ben Sira; Biblical and early Jewish studies; early Jewish and Christian use of scripture; Hebrew Bible; Hellenistic and Roman Judaism; late antique Jewish studies; lexicography; medicine and magic; scribal culture and literacy.; Septuagint; Targums; textual criticism; translation studies

Dr Jon Balserak, (Senior Lecturer), Biblical exegesis; John Calvin; Peter Martyr Vermigli; Reformation; Renaissance humanism; special interest in Denis the Carthusian; theology and history of the Middle Ages.

Professor Gavin D'Costa, (Professor), Doctrine of the Trinity; modern Roman Catholic thought; systematic theology; theology of Jewish-Christian relations; theology of religions and interfaith dialogue.

Professor Rupert Gethin, (Professor), Buddhist psychology and mindfulness; development of Buddhist theories of meditation; early Buddhism; systematic Buddhist thought in the Abhidharma; the Pali commentaries; Theravada Buddhism.

Dr Rita Langer, (Senior Lecturer), Buddhist rituals in south and south-east Asia, particularly Sri Lanka; early Indian Buddhism and its cultural background; interdisciplinary research (relating fieldwork and textual studies).

Dr David Leech, (Lecturer), modern philosophical atheism; naturalistic explanations of religious belief and behaviour; philosophy as a way of life; religious agnosticism and critiques of naturalism; the philosophy of religion.

Dr Benedetta Lomi, (Lecturer), East Asian religions; Japanese Buddhism; material and visual culture, with particular emphasis on the preformative, healing and transformative dimensions of Buddhist rituals, scriptures and objects

Apply now

Find out how to apply

Application deadline

January 2022 start: 2 December 2021
September 2022 start: 2 August 2022
January 2023 start: 1 December 2022

Open days and visits

Watch on-demand recordings from November's virtual open week.

Get in touch

Faculty of Arts Postgraduate Research Admissions Phone: +44 (0) 117 428 2296 Email:

Faculty of Arts
University of Bristol
7 Woodland Road
School website: School of Humanities
Department website: Department of Religion and Theology

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa and the support we offer to international students.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

REF 2021 results

The University of Bristol is ranked fifth for research in the UK (Times Higher Education), with 94% of our research assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Full REF 2021 results for the University of Bristol.


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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